Introduce yourself! Who is Zeen?
Hi I'm Zeen! I'm a graphic designer and musician from Staten Island, New York. I mostly like to make Flyers, T-shirts, Album Art, Packaging design, and any overall branding that businesses need. A fun fact about me? I really love Mighty Morphin Power Rangers…
When did you start making art and what’s your journey been like from then until now?
So I always drew as a kid. I would always draw weird doodles and stuff in my notebooks, but I didn't open up any adobe software until I was in a band. We were broke, we needed merch, and it just sounded so exciting to learn. It was mostly a side hobby for a few years but one day it just kind of made sense to pursue. In 2021 I enrolled in the Los Angeles Film School for Graphic Design, and being held accountable for projects and creating really pushed me to learn new skills, gain responsibility, and get a lot of practice.
What's your band called?
My longest running band is called The Atlicic, but we don’t really play anymore. We did however play a show the other night for the first time in 7 years and I had so much fun we got to play with some great bands from Staten Island that night.
I also have a cover band called So Last Summer, and we play emo/ pop punk/ random songs from the 90s. It’s really a super fun type of band to be in because you get to play a lot of the songs that a lot of us grew up listening to and when you see people singing along your just like “I wish I wrote these” haha
My current band is called Sundiver and we actually just wrapped up recording and plan on releasing new music pretty soon!
What instrument did you play?
In most of my bands I'm a bassist and a singer. But in my current band I'm a singer/ pedal doodler lol.
Did your band play anywhere on Staten Island and if so what was your favorite show you played?
All of the bands I’ve been in played on Staten Island, and honestly this question is so hard to give an answer to. I tend to feel a little shy when I perform, so if there are shows where I'm laughing and sweating, those are always gonna be my favorite shows. I can’t think of one specifically.
Have you always lived on Staten Island?
I moved around a lot as a kid. I'm originally from Queens but when I was 10, my family ended up on Staten Island. I feel like I'm from Staten Island though because it's where I grew up and where I've had all my experiences and memories.
How has Staten Island influenced your style and the way you make art?
I feel that the music scene on Staten Island has inspired me rather than influenced me. There's so many great bands and artists out here that make such awesome merch, and if I'm at a show and see someone's table set up I find myself like "DAMN" quite often. For example, the local band Strega Nona (SHOUTOUT) had a merch table and an entire coat rack full of thrifted shirts, dresses, you name it, that they printed their designs onto. That type of originality is so inspiring to me because it feels new and fresh. There's also really great designers and artists all over the island. I'm still trying to reach out and network more because I'd love to be surrounded by them more!
What is something you’re most proud of?
One thing I'm most proud of is honestly enrolling in school. I know it's really not for everyone, and for years it wasn't for me either, but I really learned so much that I feel I couldn't learn on my own.
What’s something you wish you did more of?
I really do wish I spent more time in Indesign, but I avoid it like the plague. I also wish I was doing music merchandise more. I love making tshirts but I spent most of the last year mainly making flyers and posters, but I love music, I love bands, I love connecting. Hit me up!
You made the Rosefest poster! Would you like to share your insight about the event and what it was like for you?
So I got word from a friend that helped set the event up that they wanted me to make the poster for the event. I was more than happy to do it because it was for a great cause. The event was completely packed out, like I've never seen an event on Staten Island that was that busy. The event raised a bunch of money and honestly, I had an amazing time connecting with great artists, and playing with some of Staten Island's best musicians. If anything, that night showed how strong Staten Island could be when we all come together.
You make a lot of posters for shows on Si! What’s it like being a part of the scene in that way?
I love being able to contribute to our community in that way because I grew up in it. I always get so excited whenever I get that DM like "yo I need a flyer. The show is in 2 weeks and I need to promote it YESTERDAY.", I love it because it feels like a little challenge, and if I can get the project done fast, I feel really proud of myself lol.
What’s your artistic process like?
*Cue the "Day in the Life of a Graphic Designer" videos*
Lol to be completely honest, I'm still trying to figure out what process works best for me. I will say this though, I do drink a lot of oolong when I'm working and that seems to have become a staple in my workflow. Keeps me nice and focused.
Who do you admire most and why?
Obviously there are plenty of graphic designers that I pull inspiration from and I hope this doesn't sound cliche but my girlfriend/ Partner Laura Pannone aka Prism Visions has become such an inspiration to me over the last 2 years. Any small bit of drive that I have, I have to thank her for that. She's probably the most visual, spearheaded, and dedicated person I've ever met. Really makes brainstorming seem like nothing. I always laugh cause even the smallest little idea would come up in conversation and I can almost visually see the mind maps, and notes floating above her head. It's contagious.
What’s the most beautiful place you’ve seen in person?
One of the most beautiful places I've seen in person was Dog Mountain in Washington with my girlfriend. The hike was about 3 hours uphill, but when we got to the top, I don't think I've ever seen anything that beautiful in person before. We were so high up and the entire view looked like I jumped right into a painting. I obviously brought some hiking beers to celebrate lol.
Where do you go for inspiration?
For inspiration I use random websites, a growing collection of books, movie posters, and honestly if you have the time, go away. Even if it's the smallest weekend trip. I can't tell you how many times I went to places like Philly or Massachusetts and just looked at the towns. People are different everywhere you go. Even if it's just one state over. I'd come back and feel like I had a breath of fresh air, and then just put that energy into photoshop.
What’s your favorite place on Staten Island and why?
I have 2 favorite places on Staten Island. So my first fav place to travel to is actually the conference house. Emphasis on "Travel to". Whenever I had a rough week or needed something to clear my head, I'd wake up early on Saturday, hop on my bicycle, and take a ride all the way to the conference house. The ride isn't hard at all, but it's 22 miles (there and back) of alone time, sightseeing, listening to music or podcasts, and obviously getting breakfast. It's a routine that I hold dearly and I encourage others to try it.
My second favorite place is AMC. I love movies. I love being immersed in a giant screen. I love eating salty and sugary snacks that I don't even necessarily want. (and really have no business eating lol). Movies have actually been a huge influence on my designs and my music too. A lot of things I do, chances are I try to relate it to a specific movie, or the feel of a specific type of movie.
What’s your favorite movie? Why?
I’m forever torn between Napoleon Dynamite, and The matrix. One is a comedy masterpiece, and the king of the indie deadpan. The other is a beautifully written story, with some of the most entertaining action, and also really sick camera techniques.
The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Movie: Because… even though I really don't appreciate that they took my man Jason out of the leadership position and replaced him with another guy named “Rocky”. I’ll never recover tbh.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
"There's no point in getting worked up over someone who isn't even thinking about you" I relate that to many aspects of life. Thanks mom!
From your experience, what is some advice that you can give to someone that’s just starting out making art and might seem intimidated by it?
My experience? I've been doing this as a hobby for a while, but as a "Graphic Designer", I feel like I'm new to the game myself. I would say however, (Disclaimer: I am not a professional. Whatever that means) just make something. Make whatever makes you feel good. Also find people you admire, and mimic them. People do that all the time with music. Think about it, you're like 16, in a band, you have all these new inspirations, you pick up a guitar, and chances are it's going to sound very close to whatever you're listening to most. Why not the same visually? That's a good way to find your own style and a great way to learn new techniques.
Also BE PROUD OF YOURSELF! I struggle with being proud of myself for accomplishments, and I feel that more people should try to congratulate themselves more for little things. It feels good, man. Like I'll finish a project n be like "... I'm gonna order McDonalds" and just be smiling on the inside lol
What’s your artistic goals for the future?
My goals for the future will be to hone in on the print design aspect, and further my skills in music merchandising, and packaging design. I think that sounds like a really fun path for me.
Where can people find you on social media?
You can find me at @zeennyc everywhere, and zeennyc.com
Would you survive a zombie apocalypse?
Fuck no. I give it like 3 months. But if they're the fast running ones, I'm out. 2 weeks tops. I'm not cut out for that walking dead lifestyle, I shop at target. I'm too soft lol.